'Every design,' says Siza, 'is a rigorous attempt at capturing a concrete moment of a transitory image in all its nuances. The extent to which this transitory quality is captured comes through in the designs which will be more or less clear: the more precise they are, the more vulnerable.'
While working on a
sizable office building design for
He explained, 'We have gone beyond the stage whereby unity of language was believed to be the universal solution for architectural problems. Recognizing that complexity is the nature of the city, transformational movements take on very different forms.'
Siza, whose full
name is Alvaro Joaquim de Meio Siza Vieira, was born on June 25, 1933 in the
small coastal town of
Siza studied at
the University of Porto School of Architecture from 1949 through 1955,
completing his first built work (four houses in Matosinhos) even before ending
his studies in 1954, the same year that he first opened his private practice in
In recent years,
he has received Gold Medals and other honors from numerous Foundations and
Societies in Europe, including what is considered to be Europe's highest
architectural honor from the Mies van der Rohe Foundation and the
The government of
Evora, in 1977 following the revolution in
In 1966, Siza
began teaching at the University, and in 1976 was made a Professor of
Architecture. In addition to his teaching there, he has been a visiting
professor at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; the
In addition, he
has been a guest lecturer at many universities and conferences throughout the
world, from the
The range of Siza's work is from swimming pools to mass housing developments, with residences for individuals, banks, office buildings, restaurants, art galleries, shops, virtually every other kind of structure in between.
Quoting from Casabella magazine, July 1986, the correspondent concludes that Siza insists on continuous experimentation. 'Precisely for this reason his architecture can communicate to us an extraordinary sense of freedom and freshness; in it one clearly reads the unfolding of an authentic design adventure. In accepting the risks of such adventure, Alvaro Siza has even been able to bring to the surface, in his architecture, what one feared was in danger of extinction: the heroic spirit of modern architecture.'
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Citation from the Pritzker Jury
The architecture of Alvaro Siza is a joy to the senses and uplifts the spirit. Each line and curve is placed with skill and sureness.
Like the early Modernists, his shapes, molded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest. They solve design problems directly. If shade is needed, an overhanging plane is placed to provide it. If a view is desired, a window is made. Stairs, ramps and walls all appear to be foreordained in a Siza building. That simplicity, upon closer examination however, is revealed as great complexity. There is a subtle mastery underlying what appears to be natural creations. To paraphrase Siza's own words, his is a response to a problem, a situation in transformation, in which he participates.
If Post Modernism had not claimed the term, and distorted its meaning, Alvaro Siza's buildings might legitimately have been called by that name. His architecture proceeds directly from Modernist influences that dominated the field from 1920 to 1970.
While Siza himself would reject categorization, his architecture, as an extension of Modernist principles and aesthetic sensibility, is also an architecture of various respects: respect for the traditions of his native Portugal, a country of time worn materials and shapes; respect for context, whether it is an older building or neighborhood such as the Chiada Quarter in Lisbon, or the rocky edge of the ocean in his swimming club in Porto; and finally, respect for the times in which today's architect practices with all its constraints and challenges.
Siza's characteristic attention to spatial relationships and appropriateness of form are as germane to a single family residence as they are to a much larger social housing complex or office building. The essence and quality of his work is not effected by scale.
Four decades of patient and innovative form-making by Siza have provided unique and credible architectural statements, while at the same time surprising the profession with its freshness.
Siza is a teacher, not only at the university where he obtained his education, but also as a guest lecturer throughout the world, fanning the intense interest his designs generate, particularly in the younger generation.
Siza maintains that architects invent nothing, rather they transform in response to the problems they encounter. His enrichment of the world's architectural vocabulary and inventory, over the past four decades, provides ample justification to present him with the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize, as well as the good wishes of the jury that he continue his transformations.
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Thoughts on the Works of Alvaro Siza
Architect, Professor of Architecture,
I have always had the impression that Alvaro Siza's architecture sprang from archaeological foundations known to him alone—signs invisible to anyone who has not studied the site in detail through drawings with steady, focused concentration.
Later on, those signs come together because they convey a feeling of growing out of something necessary, of relating, connecting, establishing and constructing, all the while maintaining the tender uncertainty of hypothesis and discovery.
The construction is slow and intense. It is made of the discrete, if not downright secret, signs of an attempt to start anew, based on establishing some creative and apparently simple and explicit signs of an universal design system.
Siza's work is characterized by just that sense of architecture as a means of listening to the real, in that it hides at least as much as it shows. Siza's architecture makes one see, and it reveals rather than interprets the truth of the context.
It seems then, that he has very carefully removed parts from the design, which is very clearly and harmoniously drawn, in order to create expectations. All non-essentials have been removed, but even that, in turn, has left its traces, like when pencil strokes are erased and redrawn in a drawing. Sharp corners and sinewy curves are interwoven for an apparently mysterious reason, something that has to do with the very history of the design. Its thoughts, misfortunes and changes are not totally forgotten, but are transformed in the construction of a mental site, of a context just as real as the surrounding physical one.
Alvaro Siza Vieira
is clearly considered one of today's greatest living architects. He is an
architect still able to make authentic affirmations with his architecture,
still able to surprise a culture as blase as ours by coming on stage from
unexpected quarters. The interest in his architecture shown by younger
generations in particular results from the complex mixture of meanings that
emanates from his work. His architecture is formed in quiet and seclusion; then
there is the slight but ever precise touch of his works, which seem to emerge
as clean, precious points among the contemporary urban blight, yet at the same
time making one painfully responsible for those problems. In addition to this
mixture and the tradition of poverty and the gentle melancholy of
Over the years, all of that has made him become more secure in the methods and processes of his craft without eliminating his sense of trepidation, of attempting to have his designs express the margins of an architectural problem, when he checks with his hands and eyes.
The quality of the tensions which he draws up and details is touching (to use a word out of fashion like him) and derives principally, in my opinion, from two themes: attention and uneasiness; the clear certainty which is that the essential is always a little different from the directions chosen, and from possible explanations.
For Siza, even detail is not an incident or a technological exhibition, but a dimension of the accessibility of architecture, a way of verifying by touch the feel, the uniqueness of a thing made for a particular place with contemporary techniques, to come into contact with the everyday things by handling them. His is a technology of detail created from unexpected distances between the parts which introduce a spatial tension between the smallest and most commonplace elements, for their mutual placement, superimposition and interconnectedness.
To speak about
Siza's architecture, however, one must start by admitting that it is
indescribable. This is not critical or textual indescribability alone (in fact
the latter would certainly be one of the best means for the purpose, perhaps in
story-form), but the same inability of photography to communicate the specific
sense of his work. This is also because his design includes a unique temporal
dimension, resulting not only from the processes required for coming into
contact with his structures, but also from his ability to establish a type of
autonomous memory of the design, completely present in the final structure,
built by the accumulation and purification of successive discoveries which are
constituted as data of later structures. Nothing is planned in and of itself,
but always in relation to belonging. Above all, for Alvaro Siza, coming from
I believe that Alvaro Siza could be justifiably considered the father of the new architectural minimalism, but a minimalism far from any abstraction or perceptive radicalism, in which the architectural sign is incision and superimposition. A timid, unequivocal, circumscribed assurance seems to characterize the forms of his new minimalism. It is careful concentration, the capacity for detailed observation and characterization. If it appears that the use of elementary structures is most indirect, it is rather a hidden, precise plot from which emerge by cancellation some signs suspended between the memory of the plot's established order, and a new, stringent logic of external and internal relations which the system renders clearer and more evident, even in their wavering.
The first time I
I remember being particularly struck by the small homes in Caxinas, a village thirty kilometers north of Oporto and home to a few hundred fishermen. For the past several years prior to that, these fishermen were renting part of their own homes to people who came to the ocean for the summer from the country's interior. Then, that modest gesture toward tourism created the spontaneous appearance of some one-or two-story homes, often illegal. The town asked Siza to formulate a plan to regulate development. He began with a study of the features of the old and new existing facilities. It is essentially a work of the imagination, attempting to create a morphological vision from the few signs that poverty has left in the form of buildings: colors, materials, types, dimensions and rhythms.
Then, on that basis, he set up a linear-development plan of two story homes: a small set facing the sea. These homes were planned and built amid many difficulties arising from the designs. One of them calls for a small square to the north, linking the internal street with the sea; another incorporates a cafe already existing on the ground floor; the rest was regulated through a series of building codes which he thought would be followed almost spontaneously.
The extreme poverty of the project is put to good use with pride, taking advantage of any sign available, stretched between surfaces of colored plaster of the utmost simplicity, in a strong Atlantic light, with elementary gestures: putting up a wall, placing a window, opening an empty space in volume, coloring doors, beginning, ending. In an atmosphere that is hardly primitive or folkloric, the resort village at the tip of Europe on the Atlantic seems to make references to many modern European cultures.
The second time we met, resignation seemed a thing of the past. Only five days had gone by after April 28, 1974 (the date of the revolution of the carnations), when, without encountering guards or bailiffs, I entered the office of the new Minister of Public Works, my friend Nuno Portas. Seated in a pompous armchair in that grand office was Alvaro Siza. He started explaining to me the work plan of the SAAL brigades, spontaneous cooperatives of planning and building. The new political opportunity seemed to have transformed his usual patience into great energy. Then, after great hopes came disappointments.
In the meantime, however, Siza became one of the great architects of international fame. The first great acknowledgements came: the invitations to the IBA in Berlin, his win at the Venice competition (later disillusioned, which is common in Italy), his work in Holland, in Portugal at Evora and Lisbon, and in Spain at Barcelona and Malaga, where we worked together. Finally came the award from the European Community in 1986 and then the Pritzker in 1992. We met many times in various places, busily and excitedly discussing trends in architecture. Yet he never gave up his discomfort and pride of being from northern Portugal, born on the edge of Europe.
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Formal Presentation Ceremony at the
Harold Washington Library Center
Chicago, Illinois - May 14, 1992
Speeches as follows:
John B. Duff, Commissioner, Chicago Public Library
J. Carter Brown, Chairman, Pritzker Jury
Bill Lacy, Secretary to the Pritzker Jury
Jay A. Pritzker, President, The Hyatt Foundation
Alvaro Siza Acceptance Speech
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John B. Duff
Commissioner, Chicago Public Library
I am honored to
welcome Madame Ambassador Margaret Taylor, Mr. Ambassador Francisco Knopfli,
Consul General Albano Coelho, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Pritzker, Mr. Alvaro Siza, J.
Carter Brown, Bill Lacy and other distinguished guests and dignitaries.
In his recent and important monograph on the Midwest in American Architecture, Professor John S. Gainer of the University of Illinois, Champaign, while conceding that no architect of the late nineteenth century could help but be influenced by vertical trends, nonetheless emphasized the significance of location to design.
Thus in the Midwest, the urban and rural landscapes are sharply defined. As a region, it conveys the image of America's Heartland captured in the poetry of Carl Sandburg and the paintings of Grant Wood.
The survey and land ordinance of 1786 and 1787 turned the Midwest into a Cartesian grid of townships six miles square, a classical pattern beautifully illustrated in color folio plates of the county atlases published throughout the region in the nineteenth century.
In its fourteenth year, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, while certainly not neglecting the trends of our own time, has clearly recognized the importance of location. Citing tonight's Laureate for his respect for the traditions of his native Portugal, I am proud to welcome this distinguished event to the Harold Washington Library, in itself an important statement of the Chicago architectural tradition.
The library extends its hospitality to all of you, and we invite you to visit whenever you return to Chicago.
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J. Carter Brown
Chairman, Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury
On behalf of our itinerant jury, we find ourselves on location in Chicago, and I think it is very appropriate for an architecture prize. We are in this setting of Burnham, Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe, and of such contemporaries as Jahn—that fantastic airport—and of course, Tom Beebe and this wonderful building. Thank you for having us here at your library, the Chicago Public Library, CPL. I should translate for those out-of-towners—everyone in Chicago knows that CPL really stands for Cindy Pritzker's Library.
It is fortuitous that we dine here in the year 1992, a Quincentennial year. Some of you may not realize that Tom Beebe was born on Columbus day; and Chicago has been associated with Columbus celebrations with an enormous influence on American architecture. The great Columbian commemoration held here— perhaps a year late in 1893—but in honor of the Quadricentennial affected the design of American cities all over the country, and particularly the city that I happen to live in, our capital, Washington, which captures the flavor of the 'City Beautiful' movement, as it was called as a result of the great Chicago Fair. It is therefore doubly fitting that we celebrate this crossing of the Atlantic and commemorate someone who learned his navigation in Portugal. Portugal was the pioneer under Prince Henry the Navigator, and the advances that were made in navigation were not lost on a man called Christopher Columbus.
Pioneering is what the Pritzkers have done with this extraordinary prize. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to Jay and Cindy Pritzker, and to The Hyatt Foundation, for making possible a prize which has truly become the Nobel Prize of architecture. It has exerted an enormous influence, and we hope motivation, for the world of architecture and architectural patronage.
And so the loop is completed; we reach this year across the Atlantic to the great port of Porto, and welcome Alvaro Siza as our Laureate, and realize that discoveries in architecture as well as everything else still happen.
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Secretary to the Jury
Tonight is a two-pronged celebration; the first is to honor this year's deserving prize recipient, Alvaro Siza; the other is to acknowledge a milestone in the Pritzker Architecture Prize's history—our fifteenth prize—an event which has been given visual form through an exhibition of Laureates' work from 1979 to 1992. We owe a debt to the hard work, talent and perseverance of Keith Walker and Robert Jensen for bringing it to fruition.
On such occasions, it is forgivable and perhaps inevitable to take a brief look backward. The prize was begun in 1978 at a time when little acknowledgment in the form of monetary awards was accorded architects.
There was the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC and the Graham Foundation run by John Entenza here in Chicago. Since that time, architects and architecture have become more and more visible in the media and in the minds of the public. In recent years, there has been a heartening increase in recognition to architects and their important role in society, with other prizes joining the Pritzker Prize's lead. We welcome these additional efforts to honor architects for their work. At the same time, we continue to be pleased by the adjective that most often precedes the mention of our prize, 'prestigious.' Just as we are honored to be regarded as the 'Nobel equivalent' in the field of architecture.
The good reputation of the prize that we have enjoyed over the years has prompted the question of what contributes to that fact. The answer is simple. The prize can only be as good as those doing the selecting. We have been fortunate in having had a distinguished and dedicated jury since the Prize's inception, down to the present, and to have had the able and enlightened guidance all these years of our Chairman of the Jury, J. Carter Brown.
This evening's program lists the jury members who selected this year's winner, and I would like to introduce those who are present. In addition to Mr. Brown, whom you have met already, may I present Ada Louise Huxtable, critic, author and preeminent authority on architecture; Toshio Nakamura, editor of the world acclaimed A+U magazine and numerous books on architecture. Signor Agnelli and Lord Rothschild are regrettably unable to be with us.
Senor Ricardo Legorreta has the best reason of all for his rare absence from this ceremony. He is accepting the 'Architect of America' award from the Federation of Architects of America at the same time as our event.
There are two new members joining the jury who are present this evening and who will assist us in maintaining our high standard for selection in the future: Mr. Frank Gehry, 1989 Pritzker Prize Laureate and world-renowned architect from Los Angeles, and Mr. Charles Correa with his wife Monika, from Bombay, India. He is recipient of the 1990 Gold Medal from the Union of International Architects and a tireless and talented spokesman for architecture of quality in the Third World countries. He will add yet another international dimension to our selection process.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce the man, who with his wife Cindy by his side, and with the entire Pritzker clan at his back, established this Prize and who will present the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Jay A. Pritzker.
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Presentation by Jay A. Pritzker
President, The Hyatt Foundation
As many of you know, these ceremonies are held at landmarks around the world—the Temple at Nara in Japan, the Goldsmiths' Guild Hall in London, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and many beautiful museums in our own country.
Tonight, we add this landmark by Tom Beebe and Bernie Babka to that illustrious list of venues. We congratulate you gentlemen. This is a great opportunity to introduce our new library to a wider audience.
As is often the case, we have more than one reason to celebrate on these occasions. First and foremost, we are here to honor this year's Laureate, Alvaro Siza from Portugal.
But tonight, for the first time we are putting on an exhibit, which I hope most of you have seen; it's a retrospective of the works of all the Laureates. Tonight was the first time Cindy and I had seen it, and we think the designers and Keith Walker have done an absolutely superb job. It's wonderfully done and we hope that it will be quite effective as it travels through the world.
We cannot review what has happened with this prize without mentioning again our founding jury chairman, J. Carter Brown. When anyone asks us what makes the Pritzker Prize so unique and prestigious, our answer is always: the quality and integrity of the jury. Carter has consistently been the jury's guiding light, and we are delighted that although he has decided to retire from his post as Director of the National Gallery of Art, he is continuing as Pritzker Jury Chairman.
It seems like yesterday that we were getting ready for the first presentation to Philip Johnson at Dumbarton Oaks. He called architecture the 'mother of the arts,' and yet 'the most difficult of all the arts' lamenting the fact that unlike writers or painters, an architect can't tear up his mistakes.
He also held out the hope that architecture could be the 'art that saves,' saying that we have the capability to rebuild not just our own country, but the world, if we can just harness the will to do so.
The next year when we honored the late Luis Barragan of Mexico, it was for architecture as a sublime act of poetic imagination. He firmly believed that any work of architecture that did not express serenity was a mistake.
At that ceremony, J. Irwin Miller, one of our esteemed jurors spoke of the importance of rewarding excellence in architecture with prizes, because 'first we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us.' We hope, with this prize, to inspire those who shape our buildings to even higher standards.
The late James Stirling, 1981 Laureate, said that the 'art' of architecture was always the priority in his own work, and historically.
Cesar Pelli, one of our jurors at that time, said that the 'art of architecture is possible only through the understanding of the limitations and possibilities of building.' The prize celebrates the transformation of 'building into art.'
On a much more cautious note, 1982 Laureate Kevin Roche said that we have the evidence of history that architecture is an art, but whether it is art in our time we cannot judge, 'we can only desire to make it so,' and urged that we not confuse art with fashion.
Ieoh Ming Pei, honored in 1983, declared that to become art, architecture must be built on a foundation of necessity, urging that we remember Leonardo's counsel that 'strength is born of constraint and dies in freedom.'
Richard Meier, 1984 Laureate said he preferred to think of himself more as a master builder than as an artist, 'for the art of architecture demands this,' saying further that his goal is presence, not illusion.
Austrian Hans Hollein spoke of his responsibilities—as an artist, only to himself, but as an architect—to the needs of man and society.
Gottfried Boehm of Germany in 1986 did not want to overestimate the influence of architecture on people, but he was certain that the physical alienation of our cities contributes to our inability to live together harmoniously, urging that new buildings fit naturally into their surroundings, both historically and architecturally.
Leaping to the other side of the world in 1987, Laureate Kenzo Tange of Japan accepted saying that he was still searching for the answer to what buildings could best serve society.
In 1988, when we honored two totally diverse talents—Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil and the late Gordon Bunshaft of this country, Niemeyer spoke of 'a concern for beauty, a zest for fantasy and surprise' bearing witness that today's architecture is not bound by rules. Bunshaft was described as setting the standard for corporate architecture, a standard to be judged with acclaim.
Frank Gehry, accepting the prize in Japan in 1989, said 'Architecture must solve complex problems, using technology and facing issues of social responsibility, even pleasing the client. But then what? Answering his own question: then comes the selection of forms, scale, materials, color—the same choices facing the painter and sculptor. He elaborated, 'Architecture is surely an art, and those who practice the art of architecture are surely architects.'
In 1990, Kurt Forster, Director of the Getty Center in California, wrote of Italian Laureate Aldo Rossi, 'he manifests his profession, a profession that is nothing without mastery of the crafts, but never masterly without the arts.'
Last year, the jury spoke of Robert Venturi combining two aspects of architecture — the one being the physical elements of wood, glass, bricks, and steel— and the other, the art form based on words, ideas and concepts.
And now the present: The 1992 Laureate's work is described as being a joy to the senses and uplifting the spirit, with each line and curve placed with skill and sureness. Characterized as shy and modest, Alvaro Siza maintains that he invents nothing, rather he makes transformations. In any case, he certainly practices the art of architecture.
On behalf of the Pritzker family and The Hyatt Foundation, we honor Alvaro Siza for his past and wish him well for the future by presenting him with the 1992 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
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Acceptance by Alavro Siza
It is still hard for me to believe that I have been this year's recipient of the Pritzker Prize, the prestigious award from The Hyatt Foundation already given to some of the architects I admire most.
The aim of an architectural prize is supposed to be, above all, that of supporting and celebrating perfection. I have yet not been able to reach perfection.
I remember a talk which took place many years ago with my friend Fernando Tavora, my teacher at the school of Porto. In it he mentioned his perplexity at the imperfections of the Brunelleschi cupola when seen from a certain angle. He expressed first a certain disappointment, which was followed by a feeling of understanding, of discovery, of plenitude.
I am not, however, referring to the insatisfaction of an artist, which is a feeling that is often with me. I am referring to concrete and material imperfections: cracks on walls, a certain discomfort, irregular stuccoes, or bent woods, in sum, the rigour that has not been attained.
On the other hand, I am referring to the lack of sensitivity which either hampers or despises the search for beauty, be it the beauty of harmony or contrast.
The professional life of architects is nowadays affected not only by those imperfections, but also by difficulties or impossibilities in the making of architecture.
I always felt professionally divided between the hard and difficult challenge to answer the needs of the greatest number of persons on the one hand; and the attraction for single opportunities (which are apparently closer to the viability of architecture).
In the end both hypotheses complement each other, being indispensable to one another.
The various circumstances that surround architectural commissions, with their stigmas of specialization led me until recently to project above all—in a fragmentary way—the urban tissue made of apparently banal elements that shape the majority of the area of any city or territory.
This is far from being a modest task: it aims at re-encountering the lost spontaneity, the joy of spontaneity and of difference; the disinhibited and collective competence to find or model the place for exceptional urban episodes.
I dream of the moment in which such an intimate and collective need will not be dependent on a degree in architecture.
At the moment, and not only in my country, the need and the way to add quality to things that are banal and repetitive—as a condition to enhance the beauty of the city and of its monuments—is facing profound transformations, that, perhaps at the moment, are quite painful, but which are essentially more than promising, fascinating and creative transformation beyond apparent frontiers:
—neither high technology nor the sound knowledge of craftsmen—the old support to architectural creation—but an in-between situation in which we must be involved;
—a situation of death and rebirth under a form which we nervously exploit, questioning and dipping into the real.
I want to express that the Pritzker Prize gives my heart some serenity. The message is clear to me: it is acknowledged that our condition is transitional, different from environment to environment, yet universal; gradually freed from the narrow concept of centre and periphery.
All my gratitude to the Pritzker family, who love architecture as Art, celebrating it in that condition; who appreciate it by its integrity and not by its lateral views.
I express my thanks to the members of the jury who—constantly and without reserve—search for that integrity.
My thanks to my family and to my friends—colleagues, collaborators in the studio, clients and others here present or not, to all those that honour me with their presence in this room.
After all I dare to understand the reason this prize has been granted to me. I feel happy and proud. Thank you very much.
Ultimele referate adaugate
- Mihai beniuc - „poezii"
- Mihai eminescu - student la berlin
- Mircea Eliade - Mioara Nazdravana (mioriţa)
- Chirita in provintie de Vasile Alecsandri -expunerea subiectului
- Dragoste de viata de Jack London
|Ion Luca Caragiale
- Triumful talentului… (reproducere) de Ion Luca Caragiale
- Fantasticul in proza lui Mircea Eliade - La tiganci
- „Personalitate creatoare” si „figura a spiritului creator” eminescian
- Enigma Otiliei de George Calinescu - geneza, subiectul si tema romanului
- Arta literara in romanul Ion, - Liviu Rebreanu